Have you ever read the fourth book in a series before you read the first one? And then you realized you could only follow half the storylines? That’s what I did this month with Christmas at the Island Hotel.
This book is the fourth book in Jenny Colgan’s Mure series. Mure is a tiny, beautiful, and freezing cold island midway between the Scottish and Norwegian coasts that houses quite the collection of characters. Many of the characters, such as Flora Mackenzie and Saif Hassan, are continuing characters from the other books in the series. Two main characters from the island, however, are the focus of this installment.
The first, Fintan Mackenzie, has lost his partner Colton, and is trying to honor Colton’s wishes by opening a posh new hotel on the island. It’s right at Christmas, and the hotel is almost ready to open. Flora, who just had a baby, is spending her “maternity leave” from her cafe helping to prepare for the opening. My sense is that Fintan has been a main character in this series before, but I can’t verify it.
The second character from the island to get a “main” storyline in this book is Isla Gregor. She’s been working as a waitress at the island cafe, and gets promoted to being a kitchen helper under the cantankerous French chef Gaspard in the new hotel. (I don’t know if she’d been a character in the series before now)
A new character is Konstantin Pederson. He’s the son of a Norwegian duke who has been sent to the island to learn the values of hard work after his father gets fed up with his lazy, playboy ways. Konstantin is a kitchen helper at the hotel, starting as a pot boy and attempting to learn how to do kitchen work (Spoiler alert: He’s awful at everything!)
They are all working hard to get the kitchen and the hotel going before Christmas, and lots of other things are happening around the island too. Will love blossom? Will the hotel have a successful opening?
I noticed . . .
There was a lot going on this book, and the reader is just kind of propelled into the action. Except for Isla and Koastantin, there is no introduction to the characters. I probably should have went back and started again with the first book, but I didn’t.
I also noticed that this was a quite lovely close knit community. I felt such a warmth and love. Even though I didn’t understand all the storylines, I could tell that they had been closely knit through time.
I wondered . . .
I wondered about Fintan’s relationship with Colton. I really want to go back and read some more in this series to find out more about Colton.
The storyline I was probably most lost in though was Saif’s storyline. There seemed to be a major development in his storyline, but I couldn’t really appreciate it since this was my first book in the series.
It reminded me of . . .
This reminded me of some of Colgan’s other books. I read 500 Miles from You earlier this year, which was the third (?) of the Scottish bookstore books. Colgan is great at drawing fun and cozy stories with warm characters.
I’m also currently reading Carla de Guzman’s Sweet on You, and the large cast of supporting characters reminds me of this book. Just like Colgan, Guzman has created a huge cast of really likable secondary characters.
Overall, this was a nice, cozy Christmas read, but one that is probably best appreciated by those who have read the other books in the series.